The effect of contaminants on the adhesion of the spatulae of a gecko

Yeau Ren Jeng, Chien Ping Mao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Many researchers have reported that the robust adhesion that enables geckos to move quickly and securely across a range of vertical and horizontal surfaces is provided by the hierarchical structure of their feet (i.e. lamellae, setae, spatulae, etc.). Maintaining this robust adhesion requires an intimate contact between the terminal tips of the spatulae and the surface. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect on the adhesive properties of the spatulae when a particle becomes trapped at the contact surface. Using the Johnson, Kendall and Roberts (JKR) theory, a model was constructed to assist in the analysis of the interactions between the spatula tip, the particle and the surface. The results showed that the keratin (the natural material of the spatula) provides a robust system for adhesion even when there is a particle in the contact area, and the effective contact area of spatulae will be 80%. When the particle is significantly harder than the surface, the adhesion properties of the contact surface influenced by the particle will be more obvious. The results also reveal that the generated adhesion is considerably higher when the spatula is in contact with a softer surface, such as wood or concrete, rather than a hard surface, such as glass or SiO2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-603
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biosciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Dec

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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